With a COVID-19 vaccine now approved for children 12 and older, Akron Children’s Hospital is planning a two-phase approach to increasing access to families throughout its Northern Ohio service region.
On Monday, the FDA extended the emergency use authorization for the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 to 15 years of age. It had already been approved for teens 16 and older.
As of today, appointments can be made for children 12 and older at Akron Children’s community vaccination clinics on its Akron and Boardman campuses. Appointments can be made at akronchildrens.org/covidvaccine.
Akron Children’s will continue offering the vaccines in schools to students with a parent’s consent. So far, the hospital’s Division of School Health Services has vaccinated high school students 16 years and older across 20 school districts spanning Summit, Portage, Stark, Mahoning, Columbiana and Wayne counties. Now the vaccine will be offered to students 12 and older and the school-based clinics will continue into the summer months.
More options to vaccine access coming
By mid-May, as part of phase 2 of the plan, the hospital will offer the vaccine at select primary care offices (Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics) in its 20-county service area, at its urgent care locations and at drive-through clinics at its regional health centers in Boston Heights, Mansfield, North Canton, and Warren.
In June, the hospital will partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio to offer the vaccine to eligible children.
“We know parents have loved the convenience of the school-based vaccine clinics, but some families would prefer a drive-through option and others would prefer to have their children vaccinated in their pediatrician’s office,” said Dr. Michael Bigham, chief quality officer for Akron Children’s. “We want to give families several options for easy access to the vaccine that are close to home.”
Parents’ vaccine questions addressed
Recently, three Akron Children’s physicians addressed vaccine questions and concerns from parents in a panel discussion that’s available on the hospital’s YouTube channel. The panel included Dr. Eric Robinette, a pediatric infectious disease specialist; Dr. Michael Forbes, a pediatric critical care physician; and Dr. Bigham, who has been heading up Akron Children’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
“While many of us eagerly awaited the arrival of the vaccines, we know others have been waiting and watching,” said Dr. Bigham. “Our panel discussion covers many of the questions and concerns we are hearing in our practices and those submitted to us by parents on social media.”
The discussion, which can be found here, covers such topics as the risk/benefits of the vaccine, what the doctors have been seeing in treating children for COVID-19 this past year, myths and misinformation about the vaccines, and the common reasons why people are hesitant to get vaccinated.